THE DOMINO EFFECT
The saying that “one thing leads to another” is sometimes true about an injury. An injury to a foot or leg can cause someone to limp, putting more weight on the opposite leg and changing their posture. Over time, this can cause symptoms in the uninjured leg or the back. Similarly, an injury to someone’s dominant arm can cause them to overuse the opposite arm, eventually resulting in symptoms in that arm. Any kind of physical injury that causes pain, disability and loss of income can affect someone’s mental health, resulting in a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or adjustment disorder.
These kinds of domino-effect injuries are called “consequential injuries” in the workers’ compensation system, and can be included in the original claim. As with many other issues in the workers’ comp system, the success of a claim for consequential injury will depend on the quality of the medical evidence. If the doctor’s reports document the limp or overuse of the other arm over a period of time, then his or her opinion that there is a consequential injury is likely to be found credible and the claim will be successful.
Another kind of consequential injury is when someone is involved in a second accident as a result of the original injury. This can happen if someone is involved in a car accident while they are on the way to or from their doctor for treatment, or to the insurance company’s “independent medical examiner” for an exam. It can also happen when someone’s leg gives out under them because of a work-related knee injury and they fall, suffering new injuries to other body parts.